Feathers In Bread Not For Vegetarians - Kedgley
Today is World Vegetarian Day and the Green Party is calling for new labelling laws which would require manufacturers to disclose whether they use animal-based ingredients in their food.
Green Party Safe Food spokesperson Sue Kedgley said there were growing numbers of vegetarians in New Zealand who want to avoid animal products for ethical, environmental or religious reasons.
"Many vegetarians would be offended if they realised they had accidentally eaten food containing animal products. Some foods which look completely vegetarian, like bread or hash browns, may contain ingredients derived from animal products like fat or feathers. Without a standard label it's very difficult to tell," she said.
Ms Kedgley said even strict vegetarians who read the list of ingredients closely, would not realise for example that additive 920, a flavour enhancer and improving agent used in some breads and frozen desserts, is derived from animal hair and chicken feathers.
Animal fats and a range of animal-based ingredients such as rennet, gelatine, shellac and formic acid are used in all sorts of processed food.
"Vegetarian consumers need to be able to see at a glance whether a food contains ingredients or additives of animal origin. A simple statement 'this product contains ingredients of animal origin' is all that is needed.
"The Minister of Health has agreed to put saturated fats and sugar on mandatory nutrition panels through the Australia New Zealand Food Authority. Now I'm calling on her to get an animal origin requirement added."
Ms Kedgley said any new labelling laws should also require fast food chains like McDonalds and Burger King and take-away outlets to display posters identifying foods containing animal ingredients. Some fast food chains sell desserts which contain animal fat and cook french fries in beef lard.
Ms Kedgley said presently, the only way vegetarians can be absolutely sure the food they buy is really vegetarian is by choosing foods with the "V" Trademark label, established by the Vegetarian Society.
"Unfortunately because the 'V' label is based on a voluntary system, most food brands are left unlabelled, leaving many vegetarians unsure about the foods they purchase."
Sue Kedgley will be at the Wellington Centre City New World (Cable St) today at 2.30pm with a trolley full of food that vegetarians may be surprised to learn contain animal ingredients.